Not Realizing There is a Problem Until the Annual Survey?

If it takes until the annual employee satisfaction survey comes out to realize that you have a problem, “listening” to employee ideas probably won’t help much.

Some possibilities here:

  1. Your organization doesn’t have enough trust for everyone having a problem to be able to communicate that problem to the next level and have each level of management propagate that knowledge OR address it.
  2. You don’t have enough contact with your employees to recognize there is a problem yourself. If you see one person forcing a smile at every team gathering–that’s a Grumpy Coworker.  If you see a whole team doing it, that’s a Problem.
  3. Your employees are getting paid by your competitors to say they’re disgruntled.

One of the above possibilities does not belong with the others.



Exclamation points necessary!!

Once upon a time, in what people used to call “grammar school”, the exclamation point was a thing of mystery. It was generally something that seemed to never have a use in writing, with the exception of after an interjection or a strongly emphasized command.

The Wikipedia article on the exclamation mark quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald:

Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.

So, when did exclamation points go from “to be used as sparingly as capsaicin extract in chili” to “like salt on french fries?” It seems as though any reply of gratitude via email, text, or instant message requires at least one exclamation point if you’re grateful, and two if it was a big help. Don’t underemphasize your gratitude with a period. It may come out as a forced “thank you”, similar to the way your parents made you thank an aunt for an ugly sweater.

Some people even extend this required emphasis by put things in ALL CAPS.

Maybe we should suspend coffee service to the office for a while.


Keep your motivational sayings to yourself and not in my email.

I appreciate that you love your job, or that you at least have a daily affirmation that you repeat to tell yourself that you do.

Do you know who reads your motivational saying when you use it in your signature line?  Hint:  It’s not you.

Yes, that’s right.  Everyone else reads your motivational saying.  It gets attached to every request for help.  It gets attached to every reminder to fill out my bureaucratic paperwork.  It gets attached to every admonition that you send out.

Now I know why you enjoy your job.  You’re making us miserable with being a bureaucratic task master.

Think about the perception of that email signature.

Recession lesson

If you didn’t realize it already, is there any doubt left that a company does not possess such noble qualities as loyalty, kindness, and honor?  A few years ago we were made to feel that The Company cared about us.  The Company wanted us to be happy at work, and in all of life.  A fulfilling career path along with work-life-balance was The Company’s goal for us. It would reward our hard work and loyalty. The Company understood us. The Company was our friend. The Company was good.

Enter the recession to teach us a lesson.

How did The Company react when staring financial hard times in the face? With a sudden cruelty that shocked many. Droves of loyal employees were treated with the utmost disloyalty and sent packing. Those who remained found themselves with more work on their plate; the noble goal of work-life-balance had left the building. Quite simply, The Company turned on us with a vengeance.

Not everyone experienced shock at this turn of events. Some had been around this block before. What is the recession lesson to be learned here?  That The Company is bad?  No. The lesson is this:  Companies are not people. That’s it. You may have been told that they are, but they aren’t. They are not living beings with a conscience that governs them.  Companies are not good, and they are not bad. Companies are a legal entity, established as a vehicle to make money. If companies make money, they continue.  If they don’t, they dissolve.

Does it make sense to be loyal to a legal entity? People deserve loyalty, not legal entities. Be loyal to people around you, people that deserve your loyalty. Build career relationships that you can trust, and put stock in those relationships. Good people will treat you right even in bad times. It’s a recession lesson worth learning.

Ideation, innovation, and breakthrough, oh my!

You want us to what?  Make time to focus on ideation, innovation, and breakthrough thinking?

It all sounds good enough. Surely we would crush our competition if we could just put our collective brains together and ideate an innovation that led to instant breakthrough.

But you didn’t hire us to innovate, did you?  Whenever I try, I find it impossible to think past this stack of mundane assignments and my meager paycheck, which are all screaming, “Get back to work you fool!”  Will I be off the hook if I think breakthrough thoughts for an hour and fail to finish my backlog?  (My ideation says not.)

Look, if all the Innovators are fresh out of good ideas, maybe you should fire them and find some Ideators to take their place. But please stop piling their work on my full plate; after all, somebody has to keep the wheels turning around here.

How’s THAT for some breakthrough thinking!